Richard Heller Gallery
October 14 – November 11
The topics going on in Jeremy Mora’s work -- urbanism, the status of ancient objects, religion, museum displays, and the end of the world arrive in tiny packages, usually bound up with undercurrent of ecological awareness and deadpan humor. Most of his materials are found objects. Hollywood, 2006 offers discarded pourstone as metaphor for a pulverized L.A, its Hollywood sign in disrepair. Can You Hear Me Know, 2006 is found plaster, pencil lead, and a contact lens constructed into a empty, unpopulated world where communication as failed. All together, the sculptures do not form a coherent narrative, but instead many events are suggested and then the outcome is left quiet.
The show is at its best when we as viewers are implicated in the space. Mora’s work is close to what Bonsai accomplishes. His sculptures are pruned and kept as tight as possible, not being small just to be small, but expand the real space of the gallery and more importantly the gallery’s narrative space. When you are in front of a Mora sculpture, your eyes focus and you become bound up in a constructed moment with generous rewards.
Like Bonsai, your orientation in the space is tricked and enriched. The perspective induced by Ladder in the Sky When You Die, 2006, forces your eye up a ladder into a small cave. Why we are climbing and the quasi-depressing place we are going are both bound up with portents both physical and metaphysical.
Passing, 2005 is the show’s prize. A little field of found concrete and a nudge of sheetrock create a landscape which can be viewed through a small found lens, which strangely resembles the torn window wreckage of a downed aircraft. Through the lens the scene is somewhere between an Antonioni film scape and Duchamp’s Etant Donnés. You view a nun who has died, and coming from the distance, over a hill rendered large by the sudden thrust of the lens in scale come a young boy and girl. We are looking through the lens, a cinematic moment, but like with Etant Donnés, we are implicated in that moment, we are sucked in and somehow made responsible for what we are viewing, only instead of viewing the Origin of the World, we view a departed nun, a world lost somehow.
Tourists, 2006, could be an updated Caspar David Friedrich. Like Friedrich’s Walk at Dusk, 1830, at the Getty, we find monks on a walk in the woods. They find an ancient ruin, seemingly set up on a hill like a zoo exhibit, protected by a fence. The imagination has a field day here. The little monks are interested and one could assume reverent in their pursuit, but they are seem thwarted. The ruin has entered the museum; it has been removed of its ritual, the aura is gone.
Mora graduated two years ago from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. This fact is significant for Chicago has many artists working in a similar vein as Mora, creating tiny worlds that change the landscape of the gallery by compressing architecture into little intense moments. I have written here about Mike Peter Smith and Duncan Anderson, who have found the narrative potential of such scale. Another Chicago native, Sumakshi Singh, unlike the other three, brings an organic focus to her work. These artists instantly recall the work of Charles Simonds, another artist working at a time of overblown installations and gaudy melodramatic canvases on the walls.
In Mora’s work, I was pleased to not be in another booming installation or standing before another Malibu beach house giant painting. It is refreshing to be able to treasure the small moments in world where attention spans continue to decrease and traffic and noise continues to overwhelm.
Images Courtesy of Richard Heller Gallery